There are a number of requirements you need to fulfill before submitting your thesis for examination. These include thesis presentation requirements, supplying formal notification of your intention to submit, and ensuring that the inclusion of publications and early submission comply with University and Faculty/School requirements.
Below you will find information and tips to help you prepare for submission of your thesis. With each step completed make sure you back up, back up, back up! Buildings do burn down, laptops do get dropped or stolen. Make sure you regularly back up your work and put it in a secure location!
Preparing Your Thesis
You need to ensure that your thesis conforms to the University rules governing thesis format, structure, length and binding as outlined in the Thesis Format Guide. You should also talk to your Supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator about any style requirements that are specific to your discipline. In addition to these requirements, it is important to consider how the presentation of your work affects the communication of your research and the coherence of your argument. You should ensure that your work is organised in a reader-friendly manner, including:
well-defined organising structure with logical sequencing and a clear link between the introduction, where you outline your intentions, and the conclusion, where your intentions should be realised
well written, interesting, and logically presented arguments
excellent overall presentation, with correct spelling and grammar
It is also a good idea to consider the criteria that your examiners will consider, including:
demonstration of authority in your disciplinary field, and command of knowledge in relevant fields
thorough grasp of appropriate methodological techniques and an awareness of their limitations
significant contribution to knowledge in your field, based on originality of approach and/or interpretation of findings
ability to communicate research findings effectively in an international context
As a research intensive university, UNSW requires researchers to produce work that is robust and accurate, and conducted in accordance with the UNSW Research Code of Conduct. When reviewing your written work throughout your candidature, your supervisor will use iThenticate, a software tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection. Designed specifically for research outputs, iThenticate can help you and your supervisor ensure that you are communicating the originality of your approach, and using referencing appropriately.
For more information, visit Research Integrity and iThenticate.
There are a number of events that provide UNSW candidates with help for thesis writing:
The Learning Centre runs numerous thesis writing seminars, workshops and resources
Counselling and Psychological Services offers workshops on issues such as avoiding procrastination, time management and dealing with stress.
If you are receiving a RTP Scholarship, UAP, or UIPA, you may be eligible to apply for a contribution to the costs associated with the production of your thesis.
For more information, please visit Additional Benefits and Allowances. To access the Thesis Allowance Claim Form, please visit Forms, Procedures and Policies.
Editing and Referencing
You are expected to produce a well-structured and clearly argued thesis through your own efforts. Your supervisor will provide you with editorial advice relating to the structure, substance, and tone of your thesis, along with your use of illustrations and tables. They may also assist with copy-editing and proofreading. If you would like to engage the services of a professional editor, you should discuss this with your supervisor. If your supervisor gives their approval, you should read The Editing of Research Theses by Professional Editors Guidelines for guidance on what’s involved in having your thesis professionally edited. Please be aware that professional editors can only provide you with copy-editing and/or proofreading services.
A list of professional editors is available from The Learning Centre.
All Higher Degree Researchers are required to acknowledge the contributions and work of others and as a consequence, your supervisor will review your written work with you using iThenticate, a software tool that assists with similarity checks and plagiarism detection.
Referencing styles vary significantly from discipline to discipline. If you are unsure of the preferred method of referencing for your thesis, you should speak to your supervisor and/or Postgraduate Coordinator. UNSW gives research candidates free access to EndNote – bibliographic software that allows the storage, organisation and management of references in a database. For more information, visit the UNSW Library.
Preparing for Submission
Notification of Intention to Submit
Two months before you submit your thesis, you need to lodge a Notification of Intention to Submit via the Thesis Examination Management (TEM) system. To access the TEM system, log into myUNSW, click the 'My Student Profile tab'; the link to the TEM system is on the left-hand side. This is to ensure enough time for examiners to be contacted, determine their availability based on the projected submission date, and if they agree, nominated to examine your thesis.
Apply for early submission
It is expected that candidates will submit their thesis in no less than three years (full time) for a PhD or one and a half years (full time) for Masters program. However, in exceptional circumstances a candidate who demonstrates outstanding research skills may request submission of the thesis earlier than these times. To apply for early submission, you need to submit a request to the Faculty Higher Degree Committee (HDC). Your request should include:
Evidence of outstanding research including publication of a substantial body of work in leading international journals in your field; and
Supporting documentation from your primary supervisor and your Postgraduate Coordinator confirming that you will not be disadvantaged by submitting early; and
Confirmation via the annual Research Progress Review process that a high level of achievement throughout your candidature has been achieved.
Nomination of examiners
Once your Notification of Intention to Submit has been lodged, your Supervisor and your Postgraduate Coordinator will be asked to nominate two external examiners. It is University policy that the names of appointed examiners are not released to any candidate until the examination process is complete. However, if you would like to specify any potential examiner who you would prefer not to examine your thesis, you are welcome to discuss your concerns with either your supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator prior to the nomination process.
It is important to understand that contact with the examiners during the examination process is prohibited. Any contact should be reported to the GRS Thesis Examination team.
Submitting your thesis abstract
Before you submit your thesis, you need to record your abstract on the Thesis Examination Management (TEM) system at myUNSW. Your abstract should be no more than 350 words. It will appear on your Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement (AHEGS) at graduation. You can do this at any time after lodging your Notification of Intention to Submit, but please note that the supervisor’s certificate cannot be created until your abstract has been submitted and this could delay the examination process.
Once you submit your thesis abstract, your primary supervisor will be asked to submit a Supervisor’s Certificate confirming that:
• the thesis is in a format suitable for examination
• the thesis abstract conforms to UNSW requirements and accurately represents the thesis
• the supervisor is satisfied with the quality of the writing and that the thesis is free of any plagiarised material
• the required declarations and signatures have been obtained by the candidate for the use of publications in the thesis.
If your supervisor does not support submission of your thesis, they will advise both the Candidate and PGC in writing, outlining the reasons for their assessment. If the Candidate disagrees with their supervisor's assessment, their case will be considered by the The Faculty Higher Degree Committee. If the HDC believes that your thesis is not ready for submission, they will determine what remedial action needs to be taken. Alternately, if the HDC determines that the thesis be examined against your supervisor’s recommendation, they will be responsible for nominating examiners.
Note: The Certificate does not assess the academic merit of the thesis and is not an endorsement that the thesis will pass examination.
Inclusion of Publications
UNSW is supportive of candidates publishing their research results during their candidature. Candidates must use the Inclusion of Publications Statement to indicate whether publications have resulted from the research. If candidates include such publications in the thesis in lieu of a Chapter, they must provide full details of these publications and state their contribution to the work through the use of the Inclusion of Publications Statement.
It is advised that you include in your thesis a list of any peer-reviewed publications that have resulted from your research for which you are either sole author or co-author. Generally, this list appears at the front of the thesis on a single page, or in a preface stating that sections of the work have been included in the following publications. You should talk to your supervisor or Postgraduate Coordinator about the relevant format for your discipline.
See the Thesis Submission page for more details.
If your work requires strict confidentiality during the exam process due to Intellectual Property matters, and your primary supervisor agrees, they can declare this on the Nomination of Examiners form. More information on this process is available in the Thesis Examination Procedure.
It must be noted that it is a principle of the University that a thesis produced under a research higher degree program should be publicly available. However, the University recognises that there are certain circumstances in which immediate public access to the thesis may not be desirable. If you would like to request an embargo on public access for other reasons, the request process will depend on the period of time the embargo will take place.
If you’d like to request an embargo of two years or less, you can indicate your wishes when you deposit the final digital copies of your thesis to the Library.
If the embargo will be for more than two years, you need to complete a restricted access form before submitting your thesis for examination. It must be emphasised that approval is not automatic and there must be a strong justification for a long embargo.
Applying for restricted access
It must be noted that it is a principle of the University that a thesis produced under a research higher degree program should be publicly available. While a two year embargo is automatically approved on request, longer periods require the approval of the Dean or their delegate. Approval will only be granted when there is strong evidence that such an embargo is necessary.
You must discuss your plans to apply for restricted access with your supervisor, Postgraduate Coordinator, and any other relevant parties before submitting your application. Your application will be considered by the Dean of Graduate Research, and should be submitted at least six months before submitting your thesis.
Complete the Restricted Access of Thesis and Confidentiality Form, and attach the following supporting documents:
1. Written support of the candidate's primary supervisor
2. A strong justification indicating the reasons for a restriction of that length of time.
3. Additional documentation which supports the justification for the extended restriction